Mata Vaishno Devi Cave Temple is situated in the Trikuta Hills in Katra, Jammu & Kashmir and it is the second most visited Hindu Pilgrimage destination in India. Hindu devotees from all over the world visit this famed religious site where the Mother Goddess or Mata Vaishno Devi is said to fulfill their wishes. This religious place is considered the most important Shaktipeeth as it is believed, here the skull of the Goddess Sati fell. At Mata Vaishno Devi Cave, the goddess is in the form of a five and a half feet tall rock which has three heads or the Pindies. On the Mata Vaishno Devi pilgrimage, devotees make traditional offerings to Mata of chunri (a red-colored drape), sarees, dry fruits, silver or gold ornaments, Cholas, flowers, etc.
History of Vaishno Devi Temple – Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board was formed in 1986 and ever since this most popular religious site in Jammu started to attract a lot of Hindu pilgrims. The holy cave of Mata Vaishno Devi is said to have been discovered by Pandit Sridhar, a Hindu priest. Goddess Vaishnavi appeared in the dream of the priest and instructed him on how to find her abode in Trikuta Hills. The priest following her instruction heads out for the journey after the dream and found the cave as instructed earlier. Mata Vaishno Devi appeared to him and blessed him with four sons. She also gave him the boon of being the custodian of the cave. Even today, Pandit Shridhar’s descendants abide by the commitment.
Story of Vaishno Devi Temple – Mata Vaishno Devi was born Vaishnavi and was asked by the goddesses who created her to live on earth and spend her time attaining a high level of consciousness. She was then later directed by Lord Rama to set up an Ashram at the base of Trikuta Hills, meditate and grow spiritually; and she did as she was directed. When the goddess started to stay in Trikuta Hills in Katra, Mahayogi Guru Goraksh Nathji sent his disciple, Bhairon Nath to test if the goddess had attained a higher level of spirituality yet. However, Bhairon Nath gradually lost the sense of purpose and fell in love with her, and started to annoy her to marry him.
In order to continue her Tapasya/meditation undisturbed, Vaishnavi fled to the mountains but was chased by Bhairon Nath. The goddess killed him and while dying, Bhairon Nath realized his mistake, and thus, asked for forgiveness. Mata Vaishno Devi not only forgave him but also granted him a boon. Each devotee performing a pilgrimage needs to have the Darshan of Bhairon after the goddess’; and only then would the Mata Vaishno Devi Yatra will be complete.
Best time to visit Vaishno Devi Temple – Mata Vaishno Devi Temple is open throughout the year, however, the best time to visit is between March and October. Devotees also like to plan their pilgrimage during the holy time of Navratras.
The thing to know before visiting Vaishno Devi Temple
- A trek of 13 km takes one to Mata Vaishno Devi, however for those who are unable to walk, ponies are also available.
- A ropeway is constructed between Mata Vaishno Devi Cave and Bhairon Ghati.
- Alcohol is strictly banned in Katra and vegetarian food is available in the town.
- Cameras are not allowed on the trek, thus, one should leave them in their hotels.
- A yatra slip has to be obtained from Yatra Registration Counter near Bus Station in Katra. One is not allowed to visit Mata Vaishno Devi without the yatra slip.
- Confirm the rates of porters, palanquins, and ponies before hiring them.